Ford has shown off images of its Focus ST hot hatch prior to it taking the stand at the L.A. Auto Show later in the month. The model has been confirmed for Australia with the XR5 name to be dropped.

This is the new Ford Focus ST. It’s the car that Ford hope has the balls to take on the big guys in the hot hatch market, mainly Volkswagen. It will come up against significant competition though with the Subaru WRX, Renault Megane RS and Honda Civic Type R all trying to knock the Golf GTi off its perch.

Ford hopes that the ST will do it with its 2.0 litre EcoBoost engine – a lightweight all-alloy offering mated with a  six-speed manual gerabox. While the Focus ST will be replacing the Focus XR5 that features a sweet five cylinder engine, Ford assure fans the EcoBoost four cylinder will still sound and pull just as good. The four cylinders obviously means that the XR5 name will be dropped. In fact, Ford confirmed to EFTM that the famous XR will be dropped entirely, replaced globally by ST with no number to bring the brand harmony around the world.

The company is also particularly happy with the cornering performance of the car. It comes with a newly developed sports steering system that includes a variable ratio steering rack. The basics of the system is that it will increase sensitivity of the steering adaptively around the corners while lightening it while you drive straight. This is paired with Ford’s Electric Power Assisted Steering that now comes with a better handle on torque steer

“More aggressive tuning of the torque steer compensation allows drivers to accelerate at full throttle yet still find grip on roads with uneven surfaces. The system detects the torque steer that those conditions can create and communicates with the EPAS software, which then counteracts the effect to virtually eliminate the sensation for the driver,” the Ford press release states.

For those that don’t know (cars may not be your thing, that’s fine), torque steer is a front-wheel drive issue when the power through the front wheels tugs at the steering. When you accelerate hard, such is the power in your car that it rips the wheel left or right and lessens your control of the vehicle. Ford has also enhanced the Electronic Stability Control to further aid handling.

It’s also been confirmed that the Focus ST will get the same tyres globally. Those would be the impressive 235/40R-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2s on 18-inch alloys.

EFTM approached Ford about the Australian pricing of the ST, which should hit our shores sometime in 2012 but Ford stated it was yet to set pricing.

Price: $TBC
Web: Ford